The Sunday Mail
THE Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit’s (VFAPU) annual fundraising golf day tournament will be held at the traditional Borrowdale Brooke Golf Club in Harare on September 20.
VFAPU was established in 1999 and has made strides in fighting poaching in Matabeleland North over the years.
Co-ordinated, hosted and sponsored by Zimbabwean hospitality group, Africa Albida Tourism (AAT), the annual VFAPU Golf Day has over the years mobilised substantial funds to help cover the unit’s operational costs.
Anti-poaching initiatives are capital-intensive, as they require scouts to use sophisticated tracking and communication machinery in their operations.
The tournament presents a rare opportunity for individuals and companies to help conserve Zimbabwe wildlife through various sponsorship packages.
Organisers of the golf day said a number of teams have already confirmed participation, although there is still room for more teams to enter. Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) chief executive officer Ross Kennedy said the golf day tournament has always been a major part of the hospitality group’s corporate social responsibility programmes.
“Every cent raised through the tournament goes directly to VFAPU. ln the last six years alone, US$145 000 has been raised for the unit through this event, with AAT bearing the costs of coordinating the event,” revealed Kennedy.
A total of 144 players from 36 teams will participate at the VFAPU golf day, which will also include lots of give aways, lunch, drinks, dinner and entertainment.
VFAPU head of operations Charles Brightman said their operations in Victoria Falls have been effective due to funds that are raised through the annual event.
At least US$30 000 was raised during last year’s golf tournament.
“Our operations have been producing positive results. One hundred and sixty-six poachers have been apprehended.
“We have been able to save 19 mammals that were injured through poaching activities, including three elephants and six buffalos. In 2018, we also removed 215 wire snares from the bushes in Victoria Falls, while this year 56 snares have been retrieved so far,” Brightman said.
The VFAPU works closely with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Zimbabwe Republic Police. The unit, which consists of 17 scouts, patrols a wide area in Victoria Falls as well as some parts of Hwange on a daily basis.
Since its establishment in 1999, the anti-poaching unit has arrested 792 poachers, removed nearly 22 500 wire snares and rescued 243 injured animals.
They treat the rescued animals before releasing them back into the wild.